As If We Needed Reminding

When I first saw the headline to this article, my immediate reaction was:  “Seriously?

7 Great Lever-Action Rifles
Lever-action rifles have been with us since the 19th century, and despite this age of AR-15s and precision-bolt rifles, the lever-action rifle still has its place.

…and in other news, the Marines have stormed Belleau Wood.

But let’s not get all judgey here, thinks I;  maybe there’s something new to see.

That’s the Uberti 1886 Hunter Lite, in .45-70 Govt.  And I swear, the sight of it makes my dangly rather less dangly, if you get my drift.  What’s next?

Great Davy Crockett’s bleeding hemorroids, that’s uglier than Hillary Clinton after a 3-night tequila bender.  Ugh.  Let’s get away from the Mossberg Anorexia  464  SPX in .30-30, and look at something else.

Okay, this Marlin 1894 CSBL in .357 Mag is much easier on the eye, even with the Picatinny rail slapped on top of it like an elongated carbuncle.  (I know, I know;  all the cool kids love a rail mount these days because then they can put red-dot geegaws and such on the rifle — and the length of the rail means you can also go all Jeff Cooper and turn it into a “Scout”-type rifle if you’re of that persuasion.)  What’s #4?

This is, as the article suggests, Winchester’s reward to you for having bought “standard” lever rifles your whole life.  It’s the Model 94 Deluxe in .30-30, and it’s so pretty I want to take it out on a date.  In the deep woods.  With a deer somewhere in the neighborhood.

I’ve always liked the .22 LR Browning BL-22, and this “Midas Micro” model is just lovely to look at.  Give me a moment to write this one down on my Santa list, and then we can move on.

This Rossi R92 shoots the very manly .454 Casull monster cartridge, and this means that if you’re a devotee of the cartridge — and many are — you’ve got a decent companion piece for your Freedom Arms revolver.  And finally:

What is it with this trend towards the fake-brass look of Cerakote, as practiced by the Pedersoli 86/71 Boarbuster Mark II in either .444 Marlin (a hotter .44 Rem Mag) or .45-70 Govt?  The blurb states that it’s based on the old Winchester Mod 71.  Okay.  And of course, this rifle sports an adjustable plastic stock and the Picaninnytinny rail, making it very trendy.  All fine and good;  I’m just not in the target market.

I guess that some of these rifles are an attempt to chase after the “youth” (i.e. well under my vintage) market, which is fine, I suppose, because the next generation has different tastes from me and mine.  But what that also means is that older models, long beloved by shooters, are going to be “phased out” because they can’t afford to make both kinds of guns.  We’ve already seen this with the demise of the excellent Winchester 9422 rimfire lever rifle, and you heard it here first:  the “standard” Model 94 and its ilk will likewise disappear in the near future — only the above-mentioned “Deluxe” (i.e. more expensive) models will remain on the production line.

All the above rifles, good, bad and fugly, are too damn expensive, as you will see when you follow the link.  I don’t mean too expensive for a rifle;  I mean too expensive for a lever-action rifle.  The old warhorses are not thoroughbreds, they’re pit ponies and cart horses;  and if these seven rifles are anything to go by, I for one don’t like what I’m seeing here.  Only the Rossi still looks like and costs about the same as a traditional lever rifle should — and it’s made in Brazil.

Take from that what you will.


  1. Excellent list, Mr. du Toit.

    I will only chastise the article’s authors roundly for their inclusion of the Mossberg 464 SPX (the standard 464, however, is an excellent modern enhancement to the Win ’94 – and it can be had for a good price) and the failure to include the Savage 99, perhaps the most beautiful of all the beautiful levers. (I know they are unfortunately no long in production – but still…)

    And if one more could be snuck in, the Winchester 1866 Yellow Boy certainly deserves a place at the bar. I shoot an Uberti spaghetti clone (a former Hollywood movie prop in the white with presentation wood) in SASS Cowboy Action Shooting competitions. The only thing better than admiring a lever is running it flat out.

    However, I am severely ensadinated by the news that Winchester is eliminating their standard 1894 models. I might just have to pony up and buy a heritage 1894 – for posterity.

    Thank you!

    1. Fox,
      These are all new manufactures, hence the exclusion of the oldies like the Savage.

  2. I have a rossi in 38/357 and a marlin in 30/30 and a henry in 45lc.

    I think I have the cowboy side of assault pretty well covered.

    Don’t have a pistol in 30/30 but can’t see the need or why so not looking to fill that hole.

    1. I have the Rossi .357, paid all of $360 for it, IIRC. The gun has been faultless, and is quite accurate. I just ignore that dumb safety. I also have the Marlin 39a, I suspect it’s one of those Remlin guns. It’s okay, never in love with it.

  3. That Mossberg 464 SPX looks like something somebody made as a joke. I can’t imagine anyone would seriously consider such a rifle. My guess is that in a few years you’ll be able to pick one up at dealer cost for the few dealers who are unfortunate enough to have bought them from the distributor.

  4. I have an early pre-Remington Marlin guide gun in 45-70 that has a smooth and melted butter action. It has a nice Williams peep sight and that makes it a great under 100 yard rifle. My other lever gun is a Savage 99 in .308 and that one has a scope so it can go out a bit further. It has been a few years since those have been to the range so maybe it’s time to let them out for some exercise. I have no use for goofy looking lever guns so, there’s that.

  5. My first lever gun purchase was a Marlin (New) Model 1895 (in 45-70), at the Herzo Artillery Base Rod & Gun Club while stationed in (the former) West Germany, in October of 1976, for $180.65. Still have the rifle and the receipt. In the early 80’s, I had a 24 inch full octagon barrel and full length mag tube installed.

    1. I spent three years at Herzo Base from 67 to 70 and purchased a nice little .22 Revolver at the Rod & Gun Club, then since I lived off base in Erlangen the Army was good enough to give me a piece of paper in several languages that allowed me to own the gun, keep it in my apartment and travel with it. Fifty years ago this month when I came back to the USA I had to get an arms import approval with serial number and description from the US govt. and then I carried the pistol in my briefcase.

      1. I was in the 156th Maintenance Co (Small Arms Shop) in Zirndorf, a suburb of Nürnberg.
        About twice a year, my buddy and I would entice a third party who owned a POV with food and drink, and make a day of three Rod & Gun clubs at Hertzo, Ansbach(?), and one other I can’t recall. I also bought an early Remington 788 in .223. One of the detachable mags was marked “222”. It turned out to be very dependable–shot 1¼ – inch groups all day no matter what you fed it. Later sold it.

        Shipped the rifles home, still have all that paper work as well.

  6. As Rod Serling used to say….for your consideration….I saved my pennies last decade to pick up a new run of Col Roosevelts Africa gun…the 1895 in 405 Win ( mine is a takedown). If I should ever hear of lions on the loose in my neighborhood I am prepared !

  7. Note to manufacturers who did not learn from the famous 1964 mistake that Winchester made, make something right and charge for it, or stop making it entirely. Apparently the Remington and Marlin merger or purchase is a repeat of this blunder. Or, I guess as an alternative, now find someone who can make it for you and do it right. The newly made Winchester 1873 my friend just bought was made by Miroku and is a beauty.

  8. How many times will Winchester “discontinue” the ’94?
    There are far too many idiots manning “marketing” desks.
    As long as the I-ties keep making new “old” guns, and Cimarron keeps importing them, we’ll have Henry’s, 66’s, 73’s, 76’s, 86’s, 92’s, and 94’s to hold, fondle, and fire.
    Unfortunately, the days of a new ’94 for $75 are long gone, but that was a lot of money for a 16-year old.

  9. The only lever action that I have is a Winchester 9422M, the .22 Mag version, that I recently fitted out with a rear aperture / front globe set of sights. Beautiful gun, very well made, and a tackdriver.

    1. My experience of the BLR is that out of the box, their actions are a lot smoother than the typical Marlin or Winchester lever rifles — but they COST a lot more.

      1. This is the wonderful thing about all Brownings. They are not only handsome rifles, they work Soooooo nicely. I once went shooting with the friend who got me back into shooting as an adult. After emptying the magazine of my BL-22 at the target, he turned to me with a big smile and said, “Now, THAT’s a sweet shooter!” Your last observation is why I only have the one.

  10. I’d like to have a lever and a western style revolver, both in the same cartridge size (maybe .44?), just because. I have a Winchester model 71 but rarely shoot it because at about $5+ per trigger pull it’s just so dam expensive and available boolets are very rare. It’s my Pappy’s Pennsylvania deer gun of 1954 vintage. My son will eventually own it. It’s a fambly thang. He’ll also get my GranPappy’s 1917 Winchester model 12 12 ga too, which I do regularly shoot and maintain.

    1. Ditto. I have my eye on a Henry Golden Boy and a single-action Ruger revolver in .357 Mag.

      I already have a Browning High Wall in .45-70 Govt.

    2. Have a friend that used a Browning 1886 reproduction in 45 LC with a 45 LC pistol in his cowboy shooting events. That seems like a great combo, especially if you spring for a Dillon progressive reloader, you are going to eat a lot of ammo with a pair like that.

  11. I’m disappointed they skipped Henry. They’ve got a steel framed 41 Mag rifle that would go well with a few of my pistols.

  12. The lever gun I really want is a Winchester 1895 musket in 7.62x54R.

    I know, way, way out of production. But Winchester has made special editions of the 1895 in the past, and if they made one of these, I’d be on it faster the Kim on Christina Hendricks in a low cut dress.

  13. Got a couple of Winnie’95’s(.303 Brit and 40-72) and a really nice ’92 in 32-20 and o’course a couple of Marlins. But I just saw where Henry is making a mag-fed lever gun in 6.5 Creed; be still my beating heart…

Comments are closed.